Kosovo Serb leader shot dead in northern town

Prominent Serb politician and suspected war criminal shot dead outside Kosovo office

"The murder of Oliver Ivanovic is an act of terror aimed at destabilising the situation in Kosovo and an attack against all Serbian people".

The Serb delegation that has been taking part in the negotiations in Brussels on the status of Kosovo and Metohija is going back home after a report on assassination of one of Kosovo Serbs' leaders Oliver Ivanović, the director of the Serbian government office for Kosovo, Marko Juric, has announced.

Ivanovic, the victim, was the head of a small, moderate political party called the Citizens Initiative, but he was also fighting war crimes charges in court.

A Kosovo court convicted Ivanović of war crimes during the 1998-99 war. That verdict was overturned and a retrial was underway.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and has been recognized by 115 countries, though not by Serbia nor its ally, Russia. Doctors in hospital failed to revive him.

Soon after news of the shooting, a Serbian government delegation left scheduled EU-mediated talks in Brussels with Kosovo Albanians.

According to him, whoever is behind the murder of Ivanovic, be it Albanian or Serb criminals, they must be held responsible.

Both Serbian and Kosovo Albanian officials refrained from explicitly accusing each other of being behind the killing as the global community urged the two sides to remain calm.

Despite his moderate political views, 15 years after the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation intervention in Kosovo, Ivanovic was arrested for alleged war crimes committed in 1999.

At the same time, Russian Federation has aggravated nationalist and ethnic feeling by selling arms to Serbia and by accusing the European Union of trying to create a "greater Albania" in Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

According to Tanjug, the talks were to focus on the establishment of a Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, which should define some type of autonomy for the Serb minority.

In 2016 he was found guilty of war crimes linked to the killings of four ethnic Albanians during the war and was jailed for nine years.

"This initiative, still pending before the Kosovo parliament, is of extreme concern to the European Union and its member states", the European Union representation in Pristina said in a statement.

The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, strongly condemned the murder of Ivanovic and called on all sides to show calm and restraint and allow the rule of law and justice to take its course, the EU office in Kosovo said in a press release.

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